The Dialectics Between “Race to the Top” and “Back to Basics”: Metaphors on Taiwan Higher Education Reforms Between 2006 and 2017

  • (Kent) Sheng Yao Cheng
Part of the International and Development Education book series (INTDE)


Along with the increase of global competition in the field of higher education (HE) since the year 2000, the Taiwanese government has initiated a series of educational reforms in order to face the “Olympic Games” in HE. In 2006, the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Taiwan began the first Five-Year and Fifty-Billion-NTD Project, subsequently called the Race to the World-Class University Project, providing extra financial support to help top universities in Taiwan meet the global criteria of a world-class university. After two stages of the project (2006–2016), the MOE in Taiwan received lots of criticism and demands for changes related to instruction, internationalization, the public sphere, local connections, and the homogenization of higher education institutions (HEIs). To address these critiques, the Taiwanese government released the newest HE initiative, called Higher Education Rooted Project in 2017 with hopes to improve the public sphere of HE, encourage instructional innovation, further develop various special fields within universities, and take the University Social Responsibilities. To interpret the HE changes in Taiwan during the last two decades, the author of this chapter borrows two concepts from US educational reforms, Race to the Top in 2009 and Back to Basics in the 1980s, as two metaphors to outline the dialectics between global competition and local demands. Moreover, the author highlights the debates between the impact factor and the social impact factor of HE changes in Taiwan. Finally, the author provides some observations on the paradigm shift of higher education reforms in Taiwan and its possible implications for other Asian-Pacific countries.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • (Kent) Sheng Yao Cheng
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate Institute of EducationNational Chung Cheng UniversityChiayiRepublic of China

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